Christopher Lee

This Sceptred Isle: Empire
  • This Sceptred Isle: Empire

  • Christopher Lee's highly-acclaimed and award-winning BBC Radio 4 history of the British Empire.

    Britain had the biggest empire the world has ever known. At one time a quarter of the global land mass was British. Over a third of the world was insured at Lloyds. At his coronation, more than 400 million people saluted George V. Truly, the sun never set on this historical phenomenon. Whatever the day, whatever the hour, somewhere on the globe, the empire worked and played the British game, often absurdly so.

    BBC Radio 4's monumental history of Britain tells the story of the British Empire from its earliest beginnings through the years when British influence grew steadily around the globe, years when Britain took full advantage of the technical advances of its industrial revolution.

    Here are the origins of the modern nations of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and of the ways in which British influence has affected, for better or for worse, nations such as India, Sri Lanka, and China. Here are the stories, not always happy and glorious, of Captain James Cook, Mungo Park, Warren Hastings, Sir Stamford Raffles, and David Livingstone.

    The story of the British Empire is one of enormous personalities, adventure, scientific and maritime development, and the building of one of the most complex international administrations the world has ever seen.

    ©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P) 2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

RELEASED 01/07/2021

Christopher Lee (born 1941) is a British writer, historian and broadcaster, best known for writing the radio documentary series This Sceptred Isle for the BBC read by Anna Massey and directed by Pete Atkin. Lee's career began after expulsion from school and running away to sea in an old tramp steamer built for the duration of World War II. In his Twenties he re-started education reading history at London University. He later joined the BBC as a defence and foreign affairs correspondent and was posted to Moscow and the Middle East. Leaving his career in journalism for academia, Lee was the first Quatercentenary Fellow in Contemporary History and Gomes Lecturer in Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He went on to research the history of ideas at Birkbeck College in the University of London. Lee is the originator and writer of the BBC Radio 4 trilogy This Sceptred Isle, which recounts the history of Britain from the Romans to the death of Queen Victoria, the 20th century and the British Empire. His recent books include the three accompanying volumes of This Sceptred Isle. In 2003 was published 1603, the history of the death of Elizabeth I and the arrival of the Stuarts. In 2005, Nelson and Napoleon described the events that led to the Battle of Trafalgar and also in the same year he published the autobiographic Eight Bells and Top Masts the story of his time as a deck boy and his circumnavigation of the globe and the Bath Detective thriller trilogy. In 2006, he gave a "Platform" talk on history writing and teaching at the National Theatre as a prelude to Alan Bennett's play The History Boys and a new stage play set in the London of 1912. His study of the British monarchy and its future was published in spring 2014 and his book on Royal Ceremony and Regalia is to be published early 2015. In 2011 he published a single-volume abridgment of Winston Churchill's four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. He is currently writing an authorised biography of Lord Carrington and the history of the Viceroys of India, with illustrations by his wife. He is also the writer of more than 100 Radio 4 plays and series including, The House for Timothy West, Julian Glover and Isla Blair, Colvil & Soames for Christopher Benjamin and Amanda Redman, Our Brave Boys for Martin Jarvis and Fiona Shaw and the Los Angeles production of his The Trial of Walter Raleigh which Rosalind Ayres produced with Michael York in the title role. His play, "A Pattern in Shrouds" was broadcast on Radio 4 in the summer of 2009 and deals with the consequences of the assassination of the Queen's uncle, Lord Mountbatten in 1979. In 2013 the BBC ran his play Air Force One that questioned the events during the 90 minutes between the assassination of President Kennedy and swearing in of Lyndon B Johnson aboard the presidential plane. In December 2014 Lee was commissioned as the Climate Change Analyst of the Fort Foundation examination of Climate Change and Global Warming data in preparation for the 2015 Paris Conference. Through the Fort Foundation and encouraged by its founder, Ted Fort, he was linked also as an observer to Climate Change work initiated by projects made possible by the work of a team led by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. Lee's direct interest in the global tapestry is the migration of masses due to global warming and the security consequences and has completed a study for the British Forces Broadcasting Service. His next major project is on the constitutional future of the British Royal Family to go alongside his book, Monarchy, The Past, The Present, The Future...?

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